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UFCW Immigration Work will be Honored in September

imm awardThe UFCW’s immigration programs will be honored by the Center for Community Change at its annual “Change Champion Awards” ceremony on September 17 in Washington, D.C.

Under the leadership of UFCW International President Marc Perrone and UFCW Executive Vice President Esther López, the UFCW is proud to lead the fight for immigration reform through two signature immigration programs which reach all levels of the union and our nation.

The first, known as Union Citizenship Action Network (UCAN), provides members a platform to learn from seasoned immigrants’ rights advocates about the critical skills and tools needed to go through the naturalization process and become U.S. citizens. The second program is designed to help UFCW members get ready for Deferred Action for Parent Arrivals (DAPA).

Representing workers from all over the globe, the UFCW has seen the devastation caused by the broken immigration system in the United States. From ICE raids in meatpacking plants, to the endless threat of deportation, members and immigrant communities across the United States have been failed by the inaction of elected officials. Their deafening silence in the face of exploitative labor practices that have driven down wages, benefits, and the working conditions of all workers only serves to perpetuate a crisis that continues to grow.

Congress has yet to pass legislation, but the UFCW is not sitting back and waiting for politicians to act. Local unions are hosting workshops to help members determine whether they qualify, gather necessary documentation, prescreen their applications, and answer important legal questions. The UFCW is committed to ensuring that when a legal ruling on DAPA is finally rendered, UFCW members will either be ready to file for it or fight for it.

The UFCW is proud to accept this award and is committed to fighting for the rights of all hard-working men and women.

El Super Workers Win Justice

In the wake of a nearly two year struggle, El Super’s workers and UFCW locals have won a significant legal victory against the California based grocer. Last week, a federal judge granted the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) request for a rare “10j” injunction to stop El Super’s unfair labor practices and immediately remedy their unlawful treatment of workers.

In the face of El Super’s coercive and threatening conduct designed to silence workers, Chief Judge George H. King issued the significant “10j” injunction, ordering the immediate reinstatement of Fermín Rodriguez, who had been illegally fired for his union activity, and ordering the grocer to restore the company’s vacation accrual policy. The company had unlawfully changed its vacation policy and denied workers their earned vacation. After recognizing its legal obligation to bargain with the workers for a fair contract, El Super and UFCW locals will now resume bargaining on August 18.

Securing this rare form of injunction relief demonstrates the extent to which El Super tried to silence its workers. In 2014, 144 requests for “10j” injunctive relief were made by the NLRB’s Regions across the country and only 39 cases were authorized by the Board for Court action. In this case the Board not only sought, but succeeded, in obtaining this extraordinary relief.

After more than a year of operating without a union contract, El Super employees and the UFCW launched a boycott in December 2014 to protest poverty pay, widespread violations of workers’ rights and the company’s refusal to negotiate in good faith. More than 100,000 shoppers have been turned away by community supporters and workers at informational picket lines in front of the stores. El Super Picket Line

El Super Group w Signs

 

The Voting Rights Act at 50: Progress, Then Peril

via SEIU

via SEIU

Thursday marks the 50th anniversary of the monumental Voting Rights Act. The Voting Rights Act ensured that no one would be barred from the right to vote based on the color of their skin. The right to vote is a civil right. Americans vote to elect people we believe will protect our rights and fight for what we believe in. For working Americans, who we elect impacts us workers and members of the middle class. No one, of any race, should be unfairly be kept from making their voice heard at the polls. Voting is how many of us fight against Right-to-Work and other legislation that sets workers back. It’s how we advocate for paid sick leave, raising the minimum wage, and a host of other policies that will lift workers up and help us provide a decent living for our families. This largely helped Black Americans to exercise the right to vote, especially in the South, where they faced obscure and discriminatory tests when attempting to register to vote.

Nine years before the VRA was signed, only about one-quarter of eligible black voters in the South were registered, in large part due to unfair literacy tests and other Jim Crow tactics.

The passage of the VRA also required seven states “with histories of black disenfranchisement to submit any future change in statewide voting law, no matter how small, for approval by federal authorities in Washington. No longer would the states be able to invent clever new ways to suppress the vote.”

President Lyndon Johnson, who signed the bill into law, called it “one of the most monumental laws in the entire history of American freedom.” This proved to be a true proclamation–by 1968, just three years after the Voting Rights Act became law, registration among black southerners had increased substantially, to 62 percent.

The VRA also enabled progressive legislators working to advance civil rights to build upon what the VRA promised:

not just easing access to the ballot but finding ways to actively encourage voting, with new state laws allowing people to register at the Department of Motor Vehicles and public-assistance offices; to register and vote on the same day; to have ballots count even when filed in the wrong precinct; to vote by mail; and, perhaps most significant, to vote weeks before Election Day. All of those advances were protected by the Voting Rights Act, and they helped black registration increase steadily. In 2008, for the first time, black turnout was nearly equal to white turnout, and Barack Obama was elected the nation’s first black president.

But since the historic election in 2008, conservative legislators have used the success of the VRA to advocate for the dismantling of several key pieces of it. Claiming “voter fraud” as their battle cry, Republicans who gained control in 11 state legislatures in 2010 took away early voting, “same-day registration, disqualified ballots filed outside home precincts and created new demands for photo ID at polling places.”

Then, in 2013 the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Shelby County v. Holder to directly countermand “the Section 5 authority of the Justice Department to dispute any of these changes in the states Section 5 covered. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, declared that the Voting Rights Act had done its job, and it was time to move on.”

But the VRA can’t continue to “do its job” if its power continues to be chipped away. It’s imperative that we restore it. We cannot “move on” when racial hatred and injustice is still evident in cities across our country. Evidence that the black vote is still being suppressed is plentiful:

In her dissent of Shelby County v. Holder, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out that, while studying the VRA’s reauthorization in 2006, “Congress found there were more D.O.J. objections between 1982 and 2004 (626) than there were between 1965 and the 1982 reauthorization (490).” She noted that in a majority of those objections, the Justice Department cited “calculated decisions to keep minority voters from fully participating in the political process.”

Thanks to the Shelby decision, North Carolina was able to pass a bill “that cut the state’s early-voting period nearly in half, taking away one of the two Sundays when black churches run highly effective ‘souls to the polls’ voting drives. It ended same-day registration and invalidated student IDs for voting.”

By cutting provisions of voting laws that protect voters from being disenfranchised, and enacting sections that unfairly affect the poor or minorities, our legislators are doing a disservice to America.

But there are people fighting back against intrusions on our voting rights. Rev. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina N.A.A.C.P. regularly leads protesters joined by progressive lawmakers and familiar faces of the civil rights movement at Moral Monday events, speaking out against the attacks on the VRA. He has referred to the time since the Shelby decision as “our Selma”—adding that on the day of the decision, June 26, 2013, “we had less voting rights than they had on August 6, 1965.”

Reverend Barber and his congregation of supporters in the south and beyond continue to mobilize people who won’t back down threats to the VRA and all of its protections that ensure black, Latino, and people of races can exercise their right to vote. As union members and workers, we must do the same.